The exhibition, conceptualized for the 13th Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2012, was inspired by the theme "common ground." Diener & Diener chose the premises of the Biennale itself as their object of investigation, and invited 33 writers from various countries to compose essays about the 30 pavilions of the Giardini. The resulting texts describe the personal experiences and observations of their authors – architects, artists, architectural historians, and philosophers.
The authors' reflections on the architecture of the Giardini are accompanied by a photo essay on the pavilions by Gabriele Basilico. Recognized internationally for his superb photographic work on the physiognomy of architecture and the cityscape, Basilico systematically documents the national pavilions inside and out; the presentation is curated by the journalist Adele Re Rebaudengo. This photoessay provides a framework for reading the authors' essays on the individual pavilions, each of which will be audible in the language of the respective nation, as well as in English. The installation itself is reminiscent of a reading room, whose contemplative atmosphere allows visitors be transported to the gardens of the Venice Biennale through to the texts on display and through Gabriele Basilico's striking images.
The focus is an enthralling relationship between the designing of architecture on the one hand and its perception by users and visitors on the other. While works of architecture are generally presented from the perspective of their creators, the present discussion, conducted through the texts of these authors, adopts the point of view of a highly sophisticated visitor who explores the architecture of the pavilions. And while aspects related to the history of ideas are addressed in these essays, it is always primarily a question of approaches based on direct observation, on the immediate experience of architecture. The authors reflect upon the architecture on the strength of their rich store of associations and ideas. By virtue of their observations, powers of imagination, and knowledge, they visualize the architecture of the national exhibition buildings. They take readers and viewers along, allowing each to participate in this process.
The accompanying publication, entitled Common Pavilions, is published by Verlag Scheidegger & Spiess.
The photographer Gabriele Basilico passed away on February 23, 2013 in Milan, just a few days before the printing of the common publication.